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Get Ahead: What to Make in November Ready for Christmas

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 21 Nov 2011 | comments*Discuss
 
Christmas Prepare Turkey Freeze Shop

The secret to a successful Christmas is: Organisation, Organisation, Organisation. For the host, there’s no such thing as being too prepared; just think of November as the new December!

November – Time to Make the Christmas Cake

November is the time when the Christmas cooking can really begin. Traditional Christmas cake and Pudding recipes both mature with age and six to eight weeks is the ideal. Make them in November and they will be perfect for Christmas Day. Other things which are better made in advance include home-made mincemeat, chutneys, pickles, preserves and bottled fruits.

Ordering the Turkey

November is also a good time to be thinking of ordering the turkey. Whether from a local butcher or sourced direct from a farm, calling early to book the bird will ensure you get the one you want. If buying a supermarket frozen turkey, this can also be bought now and stored if freezer space is no issue.

Lists, Lists and more Lists

November is also the time to draw up the first set of Christmas lists. Divide the tasks that need to be done into separate columns, such as 1) Food 2) Cards and Gifts 3) House. Then work out what can be done before the end of November.

Cards

One task which seems to creep up sooner than expected is the writing and sending of Christmas cards. November can be used for making sure all addresses and contact details are up to date, preparing a Christmas Letter if that’s a family tradition, as well as buying enough cards and stamps in advance so that when it comes to sending them, everything is to hand. Similarly, November is definitely the time to post anything abroad before the queues build up at the Post Office!

Wrapping Paper, Crackers and Tableware

Other items which can be decided upon sooner rather than later, are candles, gift-wrap and table décor. It’s never too early to decide on a theme for your Christmas table or a colour-scheme for your tree and the shops will be far less crowded in November than when the scrum of December begins.

Make Some Simple Suppers Ahead of Time

Over the years, I have found that making some simple freeze-ahead suppers are invaluable for those times when life just gets too hectic to be whipping up meals in the week before Christmas on top of everything else there is to do. Casseroles, stews, pasta dishes, pies, quiche and the ever-versatile Bolognese mix all work really well and are a life-saver when things really begin to hot-up.

Budgeting

Apart from the organisational aspect of starting to plan for Christmas early, with the current economic climate, it is also prudent to budget as much as possible by spreading the financial load across the weeks leading up to the holiday. Take advantage of the early supermarket offers which are often removed closer to Christmas or pair up with a friend and split 2 for 1 offers on things that both families need.

Another money-saving idea is that on each shop, make do without one or two standard items and instead put in Christmas products which can be stored for later. This way, Christmas rations will be built up gradually without feeling the pinch and last-minute panics over forgotten items will be reduced.

Store Cupboard Items Which Can be Bought in Advance

  • Turkey Foil
  • Cranberry sauce,
  • Mincemeat, candied peels, dried fruit, currants, sultanas and raisins
  • Wines, beers, spirits, soft drinks
  • Crisps, cheese biscuits, nuts
  • Fancy biscuits, chocolates, trifle sponges, meringue cases, extra chocolates for ‘forgotten’ gifts and unexpected invites

Cooking Ahead – Christmas in the Freezer

For cooks and non-cooks alike, Christmas is still a time of frenzied preparation as far as food is concerned. Planning meals to cover the holiday period as well as for Christmas Day itself can be a military operation. So before things get out of hand, consider the freezer as your new best friend. Except for foods which need to be bought and eaten fresh, like Brussel sprouts, there are many things which can be bought or prepared early and frozen.

Foods for Christmas which Freeze Perfectly

  • Braised red cabbage, prepared par-boiled potatoes and parsnips ready to roast
  • Mince Pies, stollen, strudel
  • Stuffing, sausage meat, bacon, pancetta, cocktail sausages
  • Cheeses, extra butter, milk and whipped cream
  • Croissants, rolls, extra bread, breadcrumbs for bread sauce and stuffing mix
  • Ice-cream, sorbets, rum and brandy butter, truffle chocolates, baked puddings
  • Sausage rolls, canapés, tarts, extra pastry
  • In addition if at all possible, another good idea is to prepare a few little extras which can be brought out at the last minute for any unexpected guests and Christmas callers – even if it’s an extra box of chocolates or a spare pack of sausage rolls.

    Its true, preparing for Christmas is a lot of hard work for the main organiser but by starting early and with careful budgeting and preparation, it is possible to reduce the stress and really enjoy December.

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